ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – At least one person is dead after a double-decker Megabus carrying approximately 64 passengers slammed head-on into a concrete bridge support pillar in Montgomery County, Illinois on Thursday.
Authorities have identified the deceased victim as Aditi Avhad, 25. She was on her way to the University of Missouri.
Illinois State Police is investigating whether a tire blew out to cause the bus to slam into a concrete pillar supporting an overpass on southbound Interstate 55 at mile marker 57, located just north of Litchfield.
Illinois State Police Trooper Doug Francis said 30 ambulances and five medical helicopters were sent to the scene.
One person was confirmed dead, but there was no information on the victim.
Officials confirmed 22 patients were taken to St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield. Most of them had moderate fractures, according to hospital officials.
Sue Campbell with Memorial Hospital in Staunton said they had received six patients, but none of the injuries were considered life-threatening. They were expecting another four people.
Eight patients were also transported to Hillsboro Area Hospital. None of those patients were in critical condition, officials said.
Authorities said one person was taken by air to Barnes-Jewish hospital in critical condition. Another person was being transported there from St. Francis Hospital in unknown condition. In addition, an seven and eleven-year-old were heading to Barnes-Jewish on Thursday evening after suffering multiple fractures, according to hospital officials.
Another patient was airlifted to St. Louis University Hospital, but their condition was unknown.
SkyZoom 4 cameras showed numerous emergency vehicles surrounding the bus and rescue crews climbing ladders to reach inside its crumpled front end.
Some passengers could be seen being tended to along the side of Interstate 55, which was shut down in both directions for a majority of the day. Both lanes were back open by about 5:30 p.m.
Other emergency crews set up a triage in the median of the highway to treat injured passengers.
Most of the victims’ conditions were not immediately clear.
Megabus spokeswoman Amanda Byers said 81 passengers were booked to ride the discount charter bus, which was on its way to St. Louis from Chicago. It was scheduled to then go to Kansas City.
Zaq Hall, who was riding the bus, said everyone was helping each other after the wreck. He said two people were pinned on the top level and the driver was trapped on the bottom.
Hall mentioned he had been on a Megabus two days prior that also blew a tire.
About 36 passengers from the bus were taken on two school buses from the crash site to the community center in Litchfield, said Janis Johns, transportation director of Litchfield Community Unit School District 12. The school district sent a third school bus to the crash site, but it wasn’t needed, Johns said.
The Red Cross will be notified and coolers of water will be provided, she said.
“It was very warm out there,” she said, and some crash survivors were overheated.
The bus suffered extensive damage to the front.
News 4’s Steve Templeton said storms could possibly hinder the efforts of emergency crews if they further developed.
Stay with News 4 and KMOV.com for the latest on this developing story.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.